New Zealand – October 2012

At last the day had arrived for the ITU World Paratriathlon Final consisting of 109 Elite athletes from 21 countries. Registration had happened the day before which gave us a chance to meet our competitors and finalise categorisation. My category Tri3 had a total of 10 athletes.
The day was ok with overcast skies and the wind had dropped a little bit although leading upto the race the wind had been very strong and the rain had been heavy which was vey un nerving. Due to the high wind expectation I had changed my front wheel for a smaller rim so that the cross wind would not pull me and potentially make me to unstable on my bike to the point where I could get knocked off.

Mid morning I went off to the local park to carry out my pre race preparation of yoga, Tai Chi and then a visualisation session going through every step of the race. Finishing this I was smiling, happy and ready to race.

Equipment check, kit numbers and transition set up took well over an hour but now at last we were in the water holding onto the pontoon, staring out to the first buoy waiting for the starting horn feeling calm, focused and excited.

The horn sounds and we’re off and as always the first 25 meters were rough and I gave all the power I had to push through the body of swimmers to clearer water where I got into a strong rhythm. Due to cold water conditions the swim had been cut down to 300 meters from 750 meters which took away some of the advantage that I get in this discipline. The swim went well with good turns on the buoy bringing me to the exit after 5 minutes. Out the water and undid my wet suit with faultless effort due to past training practices (around my garden). Along the long transition area past the cheering crowds and straight to my transition segment to rip off my wet suit and put on my bike gear. I could hear that the French competitor was on his way which gave me maybe just under a minute on him which shook my nerves up but I grabbed my bike and rushed out of transition.
On my bike and feet clipped in I pedalled hard with high cadence on this 3 lap (20K) course. With the laps I got to see my competitors and tried to work out the distance they were from me and whether they were gaining on my lead position. When your heart rate beats at over 140 your brain doesn’t function logically and working out the simplest thing can be difficult. Concentrating on speed, gear ratio and the rest of my field I knew I was going well yet seeing the American David Kyle and the French athlete Geoffrey Wersey on the loop kept me digging in deep.
Off the bike and running through the sound of the crowd into transition with only a 5K run left I felt in a good place as I’m one of the fastest runners although as I had pushed it hard on the bike I was unsure what energy levels I had left. At the bike drop off I heard the French guys handler cheering and so knew that he was close behind me and that the American would also be close.
Sprinting out of transition I settled in quickly to the 4 lap (5K) course and picking up on the positive vibe of the crowd shouting ‘Go GB’ ‘Go Judge’ and ‘Go Steve’.
On the run I was focused and running with my race face on pushing myself to my limit however, as the crowd cheer my name I can’t help but smile. I smile because I think about where I am and what I’m doing and how amazing it is. I also let myself smile because if I am happy then I perform well, I can keep that spring in my step. Although this brief glimpse of smile doesn’t last long it is always noticed by the crowds who then consequently tell me not to smile and focus on the race…which makes me smile even more.

Once again with the lap system I could view the rest of the field and saw David and Geoffrey together chasing me as a duo maybe around a minute behind me. Three laps in and I could see all athletes from my category around the course but unsure on their exact position but knew I was still leading and pushing so hard that my lungs were burning. My Philosophy for the race was to give it my best and here I was giving it absolutely everything. I was going as fast as I could and looking over my shoulder completing my fourth and final lap and already pushing down emotional feelings. Round the corner and into the final straight I was sprinting for the line hearing the crowd cheer and the tannoy announce that Steve Judge is the Tri3 World Champion.

I grabbed the finish banner with clenched fists and shouted my delight before I was unable to hold back tears of elation, exhaustion and relief. This year has been an exceptionally tough one with balancing all important aspects of my life through this long and increasingly challenging season. I haven’t fully looked at the splits yet but I beat David Kyle by over a minute and Geoffrey Wersey came in third. I know that although I’ve improved in all disciplines…so has the rest of the competition which keeps me on my toes.

Finally a thanks for all of the support from fellow athletes, friends family coaches and sponsors. An extra thanks to Ruth and the kids, my Mum, Bother and Sister and training partner Phil. All important for various aspects of the success achieved. The medal ceremony was amazing seeing the British flag being raised for the accomplishment and hearing the National Anthem played in my honour. The end of the season and time for some proper rest and evaluation.

The Italian Michele Ferrarin had been re categorised by the ITU prior to the race as he was not as disabled as first assessed in April (He shouldn’t have got the Gold in Tri 3 in Israel). However, over taking him on the run section in Aukland and beating him by over four minutes was one of my personal greatest moments of the event.

Great pictures of the event

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